Nature Matters: Packs With a Purpose

By KBJR News 1

April 4, 2011 Updated Apr 5, 2011 at 7:38 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) Nothing can take the fun out of a camping trip like a pack full of wet gear. If it's cold out like today it could even be dangerous, due to hypothermia. In this week's nature matters David Hoole visits a Northland business that keeps your outdoor stuff dry... no matter the weather.

A good pack is invaluable to an outdoorsman on a foul weather day. When you need to carry your gear on your back, choosing something that's comfortable to wear, and keeps your possessions secure, becomes an important decision.

Mark Bartell knows what goes into a good pack; he's been creating them for more than fifteen years.

"We offer waxed canvas which is naturally water resistant. We use nothing but premium quality American leather, brass hardware. They're all hand-made one by one."

...And he's got a hint to make hauling it easier.

"A tumpline it gets weight off the shoulders."

Bartell works at the Frost River workshop in West Duluth. Here he and a group of artisans build outdoor gear by hand and take pride in their work.

"They are all passionate about the artisan nature of their work and love coming to work everyday and building something and being able to send it out the door."

The canvas for the packs is cut by hand, the leather panels and straps are punched out individually, and all the seams are all sewn here in the U.S.A. (rivet sound).

"This is the leather used for the straps."

"You have to have the right labor, to have the people available and we have a really good group of people that are here working with us and putting their hearts into building a quality product."

On this visit I got a preview of a new design, yet to be released.

"There are pockets on the front of the bag for easy access to items and they also like to have slip pockets for axes and saws and whatnot. It's a much narrower pack so that when they're going through the brush they can fit through easily."

Constructed of waxed canvas, all the bags are water resistant, and a lifetime guarantee is built into each item.
At the Frost River workshop in West Duluth, I'm David Hoole for Nature Matters.

You can find out more about Frost River products here .